Objective To determine, using a social-cognitive framework and structural equation modeling, if parent-reported family physical activity (PA) variables are related to PA of young children.
Design Cross-sectional study.
Setting Children attending 23 preschools in and around Columbia, South Carolina.
Participants Three hundred sixty-nine children (48.0% male and 50.4% black) and their parents.
Main Exposures Family variables were reported by parents and included parent PA, parent enjoyment of PA, importance to adults of child playing sports and being active, and family support.
Main Outcome Measures Moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) of children was modeled as a latent variable using PA from direct observation, accelerometers, and parent's perception of the child's athletic coordination.
Results A model of direct and indirect relations of family variables, preschool quality, home PA equipment, and child's enjoyment of PA had acceptable fit (root mean square error of approximation, 0.053; comparative fit index, 0.90). Parent PA, parent enjoyment of PA, and importance of child's PA were significantly related to family support. Family support, quality of preschool attended, home PA equipment, and child's enjoyment of PA were positively related to child's PA. However, there was no direct relationship between parent PA and the child's PA.
Conclusion Although parent PA was not directly related to children's MVPA, results showed that parent PA indirectly affects preschool children's MVPA via its influence on family support for children's PA.